- Well, since I've been badgering them for retail copies, looks like I'll be one of the first people online to talk about MumboJumbo's first two PSP titles, 2D claymation side-scrolling shooter (!) Platypus and ball-matching 2D puzzler Luxor, both of which just debuted for Sony's handheld at a $30 price point.

MumboJumbo is best known nowadays for its PC casual games such as the aforementioned Luxor, of course, so this is an interesting experiment for them - I think we have a Gamasutra interview coming up in which they talk about it a little. Unfortunately, given the rapid saturation of the PSP market, I'm not sure they will see that much traction from these games, but since their costs are low, hopefully they'll keep making interesting indie titles for the PlayStation Portable - because both of these games are worth checking out for their own reasons.

Firstly, let's talk about Platypus - which started as a PC indie downloadable game, and has made a pretty decent, extended translation to the PSP. I can find a press release for the game's debut, but there aren't any PSP-specific screenshots online that I can see. In any case, the game looks basically like the PC version, which is to say, featuring lots of cute claymation sprites, great background parallax, some slightly plain special effects, and six long worlds with fair and playable shooter gameplay.

[ADDENDUM: Mike Arkin pops up in the comments to mention: "I run the MumboJumbo LA studio (formerly Zono) that developed both of these games. That said, I just wanted to clarify that Platypus wasn't converted by Idigicon, but in fact was converted to the PSP by MumboJumbo." I originally had it as iDigicon (the controversial rights-owners, since their logo is on the game and the box), so this is now fixed!]

Overall, it definitely feels a little barebones, but oddly, what I like about it is that it feels tuned for Western audiences - it's not excessively hardcore, it's easy to play through gradually, and it has intelligent and easy to grab powerups. It's that rarest of things, an accessible PSP shooter - and with the hardcore starved for new shmups and us half-assed shooter players looking for something pleasant, it's definitely an entertaining diversion. But, as I said - a bit barebones. It does have a Survival Mode, though!

One piece of _extreme_ oddness, though - the game's soundtrack is provided by C64Audio.com, and includes remixes of C64 tracks like Wizball, Parallax, Comic Bakery, and Sanxion from Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, and others. I'm sure Hubbard and Galway gave their permission, but how about the makers of the original games? Do they even need to? Heck, Comic Bakery was a Konami arcade machine first. I'm not trying to get anyone in trouble, here, but the concept of a new game having a soundtrack made up of remixes of old, completely unrelated games by diffferent companies is... a bit boggling?

[ADDENDUM: There's a thread on the IndieGamer forums from the original Platypus creator, Anthony Flack, where it's revealed that he seems to have signed away the rights to the original game for a pittance, which is unfortunate - there was also some claims that he wasn't credited, but a commenter mentions that his name is cited in the manual, if not the game. The same IndieGamer thread also has impressions from original creator Flack on the conversion, which are pretty interesting.]

- As for Luxor: The Wrath Of Set, MumboJumbo's flagship casual game has made a magnificent conversion to the PSP, with the new SKU developed by the company itself. In fact, it's such an apposite adaptation that it's probably one of my top 5 PSP games to date, and it has me wishing that more of the best casual game firms could do console versions of their top games (something that's coming soon, I guess, with Diner Dash making an appearance in 2007!)

Sure, Luxor is descended from Zuma, which is descended from PuzzLoop (shoot the balls to match them up and make them disappear!) But interestingly, the second two of these use rotating controls, which I personally find pretty fiddly with D-pad or PSP analog-style controls. So it turns out that Luxor's incremental innovation, which is to put your ball shooter on a horizontal axis, much like a Break-out/Arkanoid pad, is very easy to use with the PSP's handheld controls.

Quite apart from that, the presentation - music, artwork, level stylings - are all excellent, and there are multiple difficulty levels alongside both 'Endless' and 'Story'-style modes - not quite the large amount of modes available in something like Lumines II, but plenty enough to keep you engaged for a good while.

So, all in all, it feels like a good start for MumboJumbo on PSP. I'd really love to see them stretch onto DS with some of these titles, too - although Mitchell has already done PuzzLoop on DS as Magnetica, so some of those bases are covered in terms of the broad genre. In the mean time, I'm left wondering whether being 'different' on PSP is actually a good thing - are more PSP users going to be PS2-style consumers who want sports games and movie licenses, leaving these puzzle and niche shooter titles entirely out in the cold? Time (and units shipped) will tell.